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Former Secretary of State Albright Burns Conan O'Brien on Twitter


Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images for Fortune Magazine(NEW YORK) -- Madeleine Albright proved to be a good sport when Conan O'Brien cracked a joke on Twitter that name-checked the former U.S. secretary of state.

On Thursday afternoon, the TBS late-night host quipped, "I picked out my Halloween costume. I’m going as 'Slutty Madeleine Albright.'"

Albright, 77, rose up to the challenge and tweeted a joke of her own, at O'Brien's expense: "I'm considering going as hunky Conan O'Brien -- but that might be too far fetched."

O'Brien got a kick out of Albright's response. He responded, "YES -- My first twitter war with a former Secretary of State! You're next, George P. Shultz!"

Perhaps trying to get the last word in the exchange, Albright wrote back, "Never get into a word war with a diplomat. We talk even more than comedians."

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Will First Lady Run for the Senate in '18?


Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Senator Michelle Obama?

The New York Post's Page Six said Thursday that close friends of President Obama are egging on the first lady to run for the U.S. Senate seat from California in 2018.

In a report Thursday in Orbmagazine.com, California Senator Dianne Feinstein has been dropping hints that this will her last term. Feinstein is 81.

Neither the president nor his wife have indicated what their post-White House plans are after 2016.

However, the Post says that a friend familiar with the first couple mused that California would be the perfect environment since, "Barack could golf year-round, and Michelle could emerge from his shadow after 20 years and retake control of her own life."

The first lady has been previously quoted as saying she has no interest in a political life after her husband's second term is up.

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A Timeline of the Dramatic Congressional Campaign in California's 52nd District


Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- If anyone in Hollywood writes a movie script based on one congressional campaign of the 2014 midterm election season, Tinseltown should look no farther than California's 52nd Congressional District.

The drama, which pits freshman Democratic Rep. Scott Peters against former City Councilman Carl DeMaio, who is seeking to become the first openly-gay Republican candidate to win a seat to Congress, has all the scandalous allegations of a blockbuster:

May 19: DeMaio fired former aide Todd Bosnich for allegedly plagiarizing a campaign report on congressional pensions.

May 27: DeMaio blamed Bosnich, who is also openly gay, for a May 27 burglary at campaign headquarters where computers were destroyed, phone lines were cut and a "campaign strategy book" was stolen and quickly leaked to Peters.

Oct. 10: Bosnich responded by claiming in an interview with CNN that DeMaio had made unwanted sexual advances towards him, even calling him into his office only to discover DeMaio supposedly masturbating there. Bosnich also passed an independent polygraph exam, which showed he had no deception when he repeated the allegations against DeMaio.

Oct. 19: As the two candidates took their positions at a televised forum last Sunday, DeMaio coolly refused to shake hands with Peters, who DeMaio then confronted about the campaign playbook. While Peters acknowledged that his campaign received "information" last June, he denied any culpability and said he immediately turned it over to police.

Oct. 20: San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced DeMaio won't be criminally charged with sexual harassment. Neither will Bosnich face charges of burglary.

Oct. 22: DeMaio and Peters appear together at another event, and DeMaio again refuses to shake Peters' hand, gesturing that he was sick.

DeMaio is one of the GOP's most-prized recruits, with House Speaker John Boehner even shunning some conservatives to campaign alongside the Republican challenger. Now, DeMaio is attempting to rebound from two weeks of mudslinging in time for Election Day on Nov. 4.

With the sexual harassment allegations all but put to bed, DeMaio has publicly complained that Peters' campaign promoted Bosnich's story behind the scenes, unfairly exploiting his homosexuality to feed the media's infatuation with erotic allegations about a perverted candidate.

"I guess you can say anything about the gay guy and some people will believe it," DeMaio told The Hill last weekend. "I think that when we learned this week that Scott Peters' campaign was actively promoting this smear to reporters and making other claims that were outrageous, despicable, disgraceful, unethical -- it simply confirmed for me the lengths that this man would go and the lack of judgment that [Peters] possesses to simply hang on to a political seat in Congress."

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New Questions About White House Fence After String of Intrusions


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The latest fence-jumping incident at the White House has brought not only the Secret Service into scrutiny again but the fence itself. The bottom line: Is the fence enough?

Since President Thomas Jefferson had the first fence erected around the White House in 1801, there has been a constant tension between creating a safe house for the president, his staff and his family, and allowing the White House to be accessible to the public.

“Trying to balance protecting a location that is a museum, an office building, a residence to the first family and a symbol of freedom is very difficult,” a person familiar with Secret Service policies and procedures told ABC News. “You want to give the vast majority of visitors who are there for the right reasons an opportunity to enjoy it, [but] also want to make sure security is as aggressive and visible as possible in keeping people out.”

In fact, according to the White House Historical Association, the fence itself hasn’t been changed since 1976, when the wrought iron was reinforced with steel. Since then, security measures have been boosted around the fence, including closing Pennsylvania Avenue to vehicle traffic in 1995.

In the past there have been discussions about making the fence taller, but that idea was met with resistance based on “historical and other bureaucratic issues,” said the person, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of security measures. Still, making the fence taller will only do so much because – as the cliché goes – someone will just get a longer ladder.

Others have suggested electrifying the fence or placing barbed wire on top of it.

“But is that really how we want the White House to look?” the person asked. “No matter how tall the fence, whether it is barbed wired or electrified, there will always be the potential that people will attempt to defeat it. That's why it’s so important people do their job and know the plan.”

Moves like electrifying the fence, placing barbed wire on it or making it taller have consistently been shut down by politicians such as Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. In a recent letter to then-Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, Norton stated, “These are First Amendment protected areas used by the public on a daily basis to both see the residence of the president and engage in their Constitutional right to petition the government, and must be kept open for their continued daily use.”

Even during times of turmoil, presidents have maintained that the White House must be available to the public, relying on the Secret Service to quickly stop any security breach, according to the White House Historical Association.

Of course, security at the White House involves much more than a fence.

“There is a system of foot patrols, vehicle patrols, bike patrols, surveillance systems, both technical and human-resource driven,” plus the use of intelligence and other countermeasures, the person said. “They all have to be working as one.”

Wednesday night’s incident -- in which Secret Service agents and dogs tackled 23-year-old Dominic Adesanya of suburban Washington after he allegedly jumped the White House fence -- is “a perfect example,” the person added. “Everyone knew their responsibility and executed a pre-existing plan.”

On Thursday White House spokesman Josh Earnest echoed that sentiment, saying, “Yesterday’s incident underscores the professionalism of the men and women of the Secret Service.”

“There is obviously no margin for error. It is a task that they approach with seriousness and professionalism,” he said, acknowledging that “last night’s efforts were better than” last month, when 42-year-old Omar Gonzalez jumped the White House fence and ran into the White House with a knife in his pocket before he was subdued.

According to the White House Historical Association, President Thomas Jefferson built the first fence around the White House in 1801, and since then the fence has evolved into the wrought iron gate enclosing the entire property.

Earnest said he would not “prejudge” an active review of Secret Service procedures by the Department of Homeland Security, but he said “it’s possible” changes could be made to the fence.

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Despite Diplomatic Friction, US and Cuba Working Together Against Ebola


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The United States and Cuba are working ever closer together to stamp out the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, inviting each other's top diplomats to meetings about the virus even though the countries don’t have formal diplomatic ties, U.S. officials said.

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, chief of the United States Interests Section in Havana, Cuba, the de facto American diplomatic mission in Cuba, participated in a foreign ministers' briefing on Ebola on Wednesday, a State Department spokesperson confirmed on Thursday.

And last week, the Chief of Mission at the Cuban Interests Section in the United States, José Ramón Cabañas, sat in the audience during a similar Ebola briefing in the State Department's lavish Benjamin Franklin room and heard Secretary of State John Kerry pay Cuba a rare compliment.

"Already we are seeing nations large and small stepping up in impressive ways to make a contribution on the front lines," he said. "Cuba, a country of just 11 million people, has sent 165 health professionals, and it plans to send nearly 300 more."

But a State Department spokesperson said coordination with Cuba as part of the international effort against Ebola should not signal a breakthrough in other areas of the relationship, like a 52-year trade embargo between the two nations.

“We will continue to pursue more constructive relations between the United States and Cuba, consistent with our national interests, though significant issues remain between our two countries,” the spokesperson said, citing Cuba’s “poor” human rights record and its infringement on freedoms of expression and assembly.

The spokesperson also noted that Cuba has kept Alan Gross, a contractor who was jailed after distributing communications materials throughout the country for USAID, detained since 2009.

But the official reiterated that the U.S. and Cuba would continue working together on Ebola as two of the many nations concerned about the spread of the disease.

“The Ebola virus outbreak is a global problem that knows no borders. The United States is working with all members of the international community involved in this shared effort,” the official said.

A total of 4,877 deaths and 9,936 cases of Ebola have been reported in seven countries, according to the latest World Health Organization situation report.

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Bristol Palin Explains Brawl, Blames Media in Blog Post


Michael Buckner/WireImage(WASHINGTON) -- Two days after audio from a brawl involving the Palin family was released, Bristol Palin has defended herself and her family in writing, explaining her side of what happened on the evening of Sept. 6.

“Instead of listening to all the people who weren’t there ... let me tell you what actually happened,” she writes in a post on Patheos.

In her defense, Sarah Palin’s eldest daughter blamed a liberal media bias for unfair and incorrect reporting on the incident. She aimed to the set the record straight while also pointing out embarrassing incidents in other political families such as the Clintons and Bidens. She alleged coverage of those moments was downplayed because they involved Democratic families.

Some details of the Palins' run-in already emerged on that audio earlier this week and in other accounts. But here are the five best parts of Bristol Palin’s new post:

1. She Says the Brawl Started Because Someone Wanted to 'Get Famous'

Bristol Palin wrote that it all started when her group's “friend got knocked out from a cheap shot from behind” from a man who tweeted “about to get famous.” It was then, according to Palin, that her 20-year-old sister [Willow Palin] said to the man's mother, “Get ahold of your son.”

“But apparently the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree, because his mom pushed Willow. A grown woman pushed my little sister,” Bristol Palin wrote.

2. She Claims She Got Involved to Defend Her Sister, but Things Escalated Quickly

Bristol Palin said she had already gotten in a car, which was previously reported to be a stretch white Hummer. But, she wrote, when her sister “ran to me crying, telling me that some lady had pushed her down, I got out of the car to go talk to her. Any big sister would do this. Next to God, family is the most important thing to me.”

“After I got out of the car, I didn’t get far,” she wrote. “I never even got to talk to his mom, because a guy in his late thirties or early forties got in my face. He was towering over me - probably at 6 foot something and over 200 pounds. He puffed his chest out and started yelling.”

She then wrote about what she previously described in a police statement, saying a man she did not identify, but who a police report suggested was the homeowner, Korey Klingenmeyer, “looked right” in her “eyes” and said: “Get the f*** out of here, you slut.”

3. Palin Says She Didn't Punch a Man Several Times with a 'Strong Right Hook'

A witness at the party that night said Bristol Palin punched Klingenmeyer “six times,” but she denied that, saying she was “alarmed that things had gotten so bad so fast. But it got even worse when this guy started pushing me. He had his hands on me, pushing me down. That’s when I swung and hit his face.”

“Some would say I should’ve never retaliated in defense against him, but certainly he should never have pushed a girl. It didn’t phase him. He pushed me down to the ground and kept me there,” Palin wrote. “It was scary and awful. He held me down until someone got me out of the situation. That’s it - that’s the story. I didn’t ‘swing and hit him seven times with a strong right hook’ as so many so-called news stories have reported. After this incident, I still had a perfect manicure on all ten of my nails. Plus - I’m left handed. I wouldn’t even begin to know how to begin ‘swinging’ at someone. The incident was scary and infuriating. I had bruises all over me from being pushed down.”

4. Claims Liberal Bias Led to Reporting on the Brawl, Says She Has a Job and Normal Life, Attacks Media

Bristol Palin wrote that she has an everyday life, and has “stayed out of the public eye for the past few years” and she has a job where she “clock(s) in and out of work ... like most middle class Americans and chip away at making my son’s life just a little bit easier,” but she says the “media still choose to put the Palins into an entirely different category of people.”

“This ‘story’ is still running over a month and a half later. Rumors still run wild, unsubstantiated claims are printed as true, and random people who weren’t even there are considered ‘eye witnesses,’” she wrote.

5. Palin Attacks Bidens and Clintons, Says They Don't Get Same Negative Coverage as Conservative Women

Bristol Palin asserted media bias leads to coverage of her family, but claimed there is not the same kind of coverage of Democratic family scandals:

“In the meantime, did you even hear about Vice President Joe Biden’s adult son who kicked out of the Navy for cocaine? (That’s the real Vice President’s kid...) So pause for a moment and consider the hysteria over our stupid 'incident', compared to our actual Vice President’s son not even being able to hold on to a position in the Navy Reserve," she wrote.

"I’m sure you heard the happy news that Chelsea Clinton had a baby. But did you know her father-in-law and Clinton family pal Edward Mezvinsky is a convicted felon because of committing bank, wire, and mail fraud? Of course, you didn’t. Because the friends and family of the revered liberal elite are treated like delicate China. Don’t handle too roughly. They are precious. They are off limits. Don’t push on them too hard. In the meantime, I was pushed and held down by some guy ... and the media salivates like a dog that’s just been given a bone,” she continued.

Palin said the tough coverage stems from her being a conservative woman:

“Violence against women is never okay,” Palin wrote. “Even if that violence occurs against conservative women. Imagine for a second the outrage that would happen if Chelsea Clinton had gotten pushed by some guy. Had she tried to defend herself, the liberal media would’ve held her up as some feminist hero. But it wasn’t Chelsea. It wasn’t Hillary. It wasn’t someone they liked or someone they agreed with. It was a conservative. And once again, the hypocrisy of the media is laid bare.”

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Poll: Hickenlooper Pulls Ahead with Women, Independent Voters in Colo. Race for Governor


Doug Pensinger/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is at 45 percent among likely voters, while his GOP challenger Rep. Bob Beauprez comes in with 44 percent, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

This is a significant tightening compared with their survey last month that showed Hickenlooper behind Beauprez 50 to 40 percent. Last week’s poll showed 46 percent for Beauprez and 42 percent for Hickenlooper.

Libertarian candidate Matthew Hess only has 1 percent, with Green Party candidate Harry Hempy only gathering 2 percent, according to Thursday's survey. Another 7 percent are undecided.

Notably, the poll shows women are key in the race, backing the incumbent 49 to 39 percent, while men back Beauprez 49 to 41 percent.

According to the poll results, Hickenlooper is in the lead with independent voters, taking 45 percent to Beauprez's 40 percent.

It isn’t likely many voters will be swayed between now and Election Day in Colorado. Ninety-one percent of Colorado likely voters say their mind is already made up, while only 8 percent say they could change their mind.

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Poll: Tight Race to the Finish for Iowa Senate Candidates


David Greedy/Getty Images(HAMDEN, Conn.) — With less than two weeks to go, it's still incredibly tight in the Iowa Senate brawl.

A new Quinnipiac poll out Thursday morning shows Joni Ernst at 48 percent support amongst likely voters to Rep. Bruce Braley's 46 percent, with just 4 percent still undecided.

A Quinnipiac poll released the previous week showed Ernst at 47 percent and Braley at 45 percent.

Thursday's poll results show independent voters backing Ernst 47 percent to Braley's 41 percent.

In the "reverse gender gap" for this race, women back Braley 53 to 40 percent while men back Ernst 55 to 38 percent.

A bright spot for Democrats -- among those who have already cast their ballot in early voting, Braley leads 58 to 37 percent.

Twelve days from Election Day, a staggering 93 percent say their mind is already made up, while 7 percent could still change it before decision day.

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Secret Service Dogs OK After Battling White House Fence Jumper


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Secret Service dogs that tussled with a White House fence jumper, including one dog that was violently kicked by the suspect, are recovering on Thursday, officials said.

The canines, named Hurricane and Jordan, were taken to a veterinarian after the attack and treated for minor bruising. Both were cleared to return to duty.

Meanwhile, Dominic Adesanya, the man who police say climbed over the White House fence Wednesday evening, was released from a hospital and remained in police custody.

Hurricane and Jordan attacked Adesanya, 23, after he allegedly jumped the north fence. Video showed the suspect kicking one patrol dog before the second one took him down. Adesanya wrestled with the dog before he was taken into custody.

Adesanya was charged with two counts of felony assault on a police officer [the dogs], four counts of resisting/unlawful entry, a misdemeanor, and one count of making threats, also a felony.

Adesanya was confronted by the dogs almost immediately after landing on the White House grounds. That was in contrast to the last incident on Sept. 19 when alleged fence jumper Omar Gonzalez was able to sprint all the way to the White House and get inside before being tackled by an off-duty Secret Service agent.

The Secret Service launched its canine program in 1975 and uses dogs from Holland called the Belgian Malanois, because they're fast, sociable and their short hair allows them to work in the heat, according to the Secret Service's website. Each dog completes 20 weeks of training before it takes on a job with the Secret Service.

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Committee of Dems Change Course on Kentucky Campaign Funding for Ads


State of Kentucky(WASHINGTON) — Alison Lundergan Grimes has a reason to smile today.  Her campaign in Kentucky just cleared a hurdle that could have hurt her chances with voters.

After the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced its decision last week to stop spending money on television ads in the high-profile race, the committee changed direction to go back on the air in the Bluegrass State, a DSCC official confirmed to ABC News.

The committee’s initial decision to halt funding had been a signal they didn’t see a pathway anymore for Grimes’ uphill battle against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Instead, committee members decided to pour money into races they hoped to win, like that of Georgia.

The committee changed course, however, since the race in Kentucky has tightened, with undecided voters breaking toward Grimes.

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Two Senators Forced to Work Together to Survive on Deserted Island


ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- What if, instead of duking it out on the floors of the House and Senate in contentious debates and late-night filibusters, the historically divided United States Congress was forced to work together to fulfill certain basic, primal needs -- say, gathering food and resources to share on a deserted island?

On a new show, two senators from opposite sides of the aisle are forced to do just that for one week.

The new reality show Rival Survivor takes Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., from C-SPAN to The Discovery Channel to prove it’s possible for the two divided parties to work together, albeit in the confines of a deserted tropical island.

In a recent interview with ABC News, Flake said he and Heinrich first came up with the idea during a late-night budget vote, each swapping their own stories of survival and spearfishing.

“We started talking jokingly at first about going away and proving that a Democrat and Republican could work together on an island, and it just got a little more serious after that,” Flake said.

Heinrich added, “The more I just thought about how challenging it’s gotten to work together and cut through the partisanship on Capitol Hill, the more I thought it would be a nice contrast to see a Republican and a Democrat struggling, but working together at the same time.”

The venture ultimately required much more than simply spearfishing.

The two were dropped off the side of a boat about a quarter mile from the small island, where they then had to swim through shark-infested waters, fighting against stiff currents and waves, to get ashore.

“There wasn't a lot of time to second-guess things at that point,” Heinrich said. “When you're in deep blue water and you can't see the bottom, you better keep swimming.”

While Flake called it “the most picturesque island in the world,” he said life on the small strip of land was not without its obstacles. “The weather was tough, [we] had to build a shelter,” Flake said, explaining that the two decided to venture for more resources on a larger island about two-thirds of a mile away.

“You realize that these incredibly picturesque places are picturesque because we're used to experiencing them with a bottle of water in our hand and sunscreen and sunglasses,” Heinrich added. “And you quickly realize when you don't have those things, they don't feel quite as picturesque.”

The biggest challenge for the pair was securing the most basic human need: water.

“We wanted this to be an authentic survivor experience, and it was,” Flake said.

With water scarce, the senators relied heavily on coconuts as a source of liquid sustenance while filming the series.

“Needless to say, I think we’re probably both over the coconut water fad at this point,” said Heinrich jokingly. “You start to really have a craving [for] water, just fresh water.”

Over the course of the trip, the two fished for food, coexisted with large coconut crabs, and even swam with sharks. But perhaps their most meaningful collaboration, aside from building their own bipartisan bond, was the time spent discussing ways to ease congressional gridlock.

“We talked a lot about both substance and individual policy issues -- but also about process, and why it is that things are as polarized as they've become. Frankly, there's not a lot of trust in Washington,” Heinrich said. “I don't think you have to agree with people to be able to work together. But you have to trust them.”

When it comes to changing that trust paradigm, both senators suggested that Democrats and Republicans need to spend more time together to help build more productive relationships.

Flake said Congress must “have everybody get together” to work past the deep partisan divides. ”I think people will see through the differences and see that at least we can work together in process and bring things to the floor even if we vote differently in the end,” he said.

“I'd love to see us be there five days a week irrespective -- through the weekend sometimes -- for three weeks on, and then you go home and you tour your state for week,” said Heinrich. “Some of the most productive times I've seen are when everybody was together in the same room. We need more of that.”

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Ebola Czar Ron Klain Starts His Job — Quietly


BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Newly-installed Ebola czar Ron Klain appeared for the first time on Wednesday with his new boss President Obama in the Oval Office — and said not a word.

In fact, the president didn’t even introduce Klain or acknowledge him during a brief press avail after their hour-long meeting.

Klain nodded his head a few times as Obama recapped the U.S. response to Ebola and new federal policies now in place.

Obama said he is “cautiously more optimistic” about the situation in the U.S., noting that dozens of people who had interacted with Thomas Eric Duncan have now been cleared.

The president said Amber Vinson and Nina Pham “seem to be doing better” and that Wednesday he called their co-workers at Texas Presbyterian to give a pep talk.

“Spirits were good,” Obama said. “People were very proud of the work that they’ve done and understandably so.”

Obama said the American people should have confidence that the government is in a much better position to deal with any additional cases of Ebola.

He also noted a “silver lining” in the Ebola scare: “It’s a reminder of how important our public health systems are, and in many ways, what this has done is elevated that importance.”

“There may come a time sometime in the future where we are dealing with an airborne disease that is much easier to catch and is deadly,” he said, “and in some ways, this has created a trial run for federal, state and local public health officials and health care providers.”

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Swedish Massages for Rabbits? Taxpayer Expenses You Won't Believe


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In Washington, pork is often in the eye of the beholder. And retiring GOP Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma sees a lot of it.

Coburn’s fifth annual and final “Wastebook” lists 100 “silly, unnecessary and low priority projects” that he says cost taxpayers a combined $25 billion.

“Is each of these a true national priority, or could the money have been better spent on a more urgent need, or not spent at all?” Coburn writes in the 110-page report.

Here are five eyebrow-raising entries on Coburn’s list:

1. Swedish Massages for Rabbits: $387,000

Eighteen New Zealand white rabbits received 30-minute massages, four times a day in a taxpayer-funded study by the National Institutes of Health. The rub downs were performed by a specially-designed mechanical Swedish massage machine that “simulates the long flowing strokes.” Researchers say humans are the ultimate beneficiaries of the project, which studied the benefits of massage on recovery from exercise. But Coburn calls it a case of waste, citing existing studies of treatments for aches and pains, and suggesting that humans would be better subjects than rabbits. (As for those massaged rabbits, they were ultimately euthanized, the report says.)

2. Army Video Game Training Terrorists?: $414,000

The U.S. Army spent $414,000 this year maintaining a free online video game that it first developed and launched as a recruitment tool back in 2009, the report says citing the Congressional Research Service. America’s Army is a first-person shooter game that simulates special forces operations. Coburn, who is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says the realistic nature of the program makes it as much a training device as a recruitment tool. “Some intelligence officials worry it could also be aiding jihadists and mass murderers,” the report claims.

3. Hungry Spouses & Voodoo Dolls: $331,000

What happens between couples when one is particularly hungry? A National Science Foundation study set out to evaluate a connection between low blood sugar and anger by arming couples with voodoo dolls representing their spouse. The hungrier the spouse, the more pins were poked into the doll when they got agitated. A lead researcher concluded, “Hungry people are cranky and aggressive.” Coburn’s report claims the findings are “already obvious to many couples.”

4. Mountain Lions on Treadmill: $856,000

Three mountain lions spent eight months learning to walk on a treadmill as part of study funded by taxpayers through National Science Foundation. Researchers were studying the big cats’ energy consumption and hunting techniques to “inform public knowledge and opinion of large mammal behavior and conservation.” It follows similar government treadmill studies on monkeys, rats, cows and even shrimp. “While support for basic science is not itself wasteful,” Coburn’s report reads, “federal research agencies should better prioritize how tax dollars are directed to ensure adequate support for more pressing scientific endeavors.”

5. Unneeded “Sheep Station”: $1.98 million

A 28,000-acre facility in Idaho to graze 3,000 sheep -- dubbed the “U.S. Sheep Experiment Station” -- has been deemed unsustainable and unnecessary by the Obama administration. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said outright earlier this year that it should be closed to prioritize research on more important projects. But members of congress and other state officials have succeeded in keeping the $2 million a year facility open for the benefit of Idaho businesses, the report says.

Asked about several National Science Foundation projects included in the report, NSF spokeswoman Dana Topousis told ABC News that each was funded after a "rigorous merit review process" through which only 20 percent of proposals each year are approved.

"All proposals submitted to NSF are reviewed according to two merit review criteria: Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts," Topousis said in a statement. "Nearly every proposal is evaluated by a minimum of three independent reviewers consisting of scientists, engineers and educators who do not work at NSF or for the institution that employs the proposing researchers."

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Chuck Norris Gives Texas Voters a Kick, Boosts GOP Candidate


Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Walker, Texas Ranger returned to the Lone Star State on Wednesday, but not to fight bad guys. He swooped in to lend a helping hand to Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott.

“Chuck Norris doesn’t campaign with Greg Abbott,” Abbott’s campaign spokesman Avdiel Huerta said. “Greg Abbott campaigns with Chuck Norris.”

“Together,” Huerta added, “they plan to give Texas voters a good roundhouse kick in the direction of their local polling places.”

With the first week of early voting underway in Texas, both Abbott and his challenger, Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis, are increasing their get-out-the-vote activities, and Abbott is counting on a little star power. Norris will join Abbott at stops in Corpus Christi and San Antonio.

This isn’t Norris’ first time in the political arena.

In 2012, he endorsed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for president, saying he was the “best man left on the battlefield who is able to outwit, outplay and outlast Obama and his campaign machine.”

Norris, 74, also got involved in the National Rifle Association’s “Trigger the Vote,” campaign this summer.

“Anyone can throw a punch. It takes a real man or woman to punch a voter registration card,” Norris said in a video.

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History Repeating Itself in Connecticut Governor's Race


Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Four years ago, Dan Malloy and Tom Foley had the tightest election in Connecticut’s history, with Malloy winning the governor's race by about 6,000 votes.

Now, the two look headed for a similarly tight brawl.

According to a new Quinnipiac poll out Wednesday, Gov. Malloy has 43 percent of likely voters while GOP challenger Foley has 42 percent. Independent candidate Joe Visconti has 9 percent.

The results are similar to Quinnipiac's poll from earlier this month.

There is a wide gender gap so Malloy will know who to thank if he does win. He leads Foley 51 to 32 percent among women, while Foley leads Malloy 53 to 34 percent among men.

With just two weeks to go, 81 percent of Connecticut voters say their mind is made up.

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